Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Geek Book Club: Java Performance

A Users Group is a bit low-tech, but still an excellent way to improve technical ability. This is re-demonstrated by the advent of agile techniques such as pair-programming, and Mob Programming. What is Mob-Programming, after all, but a sort of Users Group working on the same problem collaboratively, using only one keyboard! I have reservations about the value of  MBA-hole touted "teamwork," since it is often the last refuge of the incompetent; No better means of blame-shifting has ever been invented than the "teamwork" of a committee. But clearly there is a place for collaboration. And a Users-Group is a self-selected group of interested valuers of a particular technology.

I go regularly to a local Java Users group, which has a weekly Study Group, whose present book is on Java Performance. So, on Wednesdays, typically, I blog about the Tuesday night's book discussion. This week we're on Chapter 10, about performance on the Web.

Since I haven't blogged about the book at all until now, I'm going to generalize my impressions on the first ten chapters. This is not a book for the faint-hearted. It's very a very dense, tough read. I made it through about chapter 5 or 6 without serious problems, but got slogged down at that point, and only picked it up again here at Chapter 10. And what I learned was limited and somewhat frustrating. I can't entirely blame the book. Part of what limited my learning was the mere fact that an almost overwhelming number of tools are discussed in considerable detail. Now, if I had the time to use this as a tutorial, and work through those tools, my learning would have been much greater. For that, I'll take the blame. But the book raises a number of very tantalizing details which are not presented in sufficient detail to be really grasped or understood. On the positive side, I'm glad to know of the existence of all these tools. I'm also glad that I know where to turn to find all the tools and things-to-do to monitor a particular aspect of the performance of an environment. But, of course, this is a dwindling asset: as time passes, the list will logarithmically decay in terms of usefulness. The part that is frustrating is that many topics are referenced obliquely -- enough to raise them as a point of interest, but not enough to really grasp what is going on. I'll try to post an example of this next week -- in the interests of keeping this post manageable.  Back on the positive side, there are many tips and tidbits scattered through the text.

Last night, for instance, we read with considerable interest that enabling the Java Security Model resulted in a 33% performance degradation. That's much more overhead than I would have guessed. We also learned a cool trick for avoiding the 404 error associated with lack of a favicon. Provide a 1x1 pixel blank icon! Now that is way cool! And the whole group agreed.

My experience working through this book are shared by many other club members, by the way. One of them was posting to potential visitors not to judge the club by this book!

I Remain As Always,


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